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Hannah McClure coming to Ottawa on September 8th

July 1st, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Events
Meet Bethel’s Hannah McClure, one of the worship leaders coming to Ottawa on September 8th.
For concert info and tickets, visit chri.cabethel3
Bethel Music has introduced and developed several amazing worship leaders, including Brian and Jenn Johnson, Amanda Cook, Steffany Gretzinger, William Matthews, Matt Stinton and Hunter Thompson. We Will Not Be Shaken released everywhere January 27, featuring eleven original worship songs all beautifully produced for the Church. These songs were written from a place of reflecting on what it means to have unshakable faith in God. The project is intended to lead listeners to that place also.Every song released by Bethel Music completely focuses me as a listener on joining in praise, worship and adoration of Jesus. All of these songs are poignant and powerful with earnest, worshipful lyrics. We Will Not Be Shaken will be one of the top worship albums of the year. It is truly a moving and prayerful worship experience.If you are looking for new worship songs to sing with fellow believers, this album is chock-full of congregational songs, especially the female led worship songs “Ever Be,” “You Don’t Miss a Thing,” “Nearness,” “You Are My One Thing” and “In Over My Head.” I had the chance to speak with Hannah McClure about “You Are My One Thing.”

Please tell me the personal story behind this song.

I wrote this song out of a season where the Lord was reminding me of when I first fell in love with Him. I was pregnant at the time, and I was really unsure of what the next season of my life was going to look like with my first baby. That played into me sitting down one day and having devotional time with the Lord. That’s generally me with my acoustic guitar, nothing glamorous but just me worshipping. I started singing this chorus to remind myself that whatever the next season looks like and whatever is going on in my life, as long as I have Jesus, then my life is successful.

Basing my success on being close to Jesus more than anything else is the focus of this song. I had been in a season where the Lord was bringing me back to the time in my life when I was a teenager and my family moved us to this farm in Virginia with 130 acres. We restored this old farmhouse in the middle of nowhere.

It really forced me to get alone with the Lord and fall in love with Him. I’ve known Him my whole life, but I really got close with Him during that time. I would take walks around the property and pray and talk with the Lord. When I started singing “just to be close to You, just to walk to next to You,” I thought about the times I would walk with Him and talk with Him and be close to Him.

Which Bible verses connect to the message of the song?

Philippians 3:8-9 (NIV): What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.

Psalm 86:12 (VOICE): “O Lord, my God! I praise You with all that I am. I will rightly honor Your great name forever.”

Matthew 6:32-34 (VOICE): Outsiders make themselves frantic over such questions; they don’t realize that your heavenly Father knows exactly what you need. Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and then all these things will be given to you too. So do not worry about tomorrow. Let tomorrow worry about itself. Living faithfully is a large enough task for today.

Psalm 103:1-5 (MSG): “O my soul, bless God. From head to toe, I’ll bless His holy name! O my soul, bless God, don’t forget a single blessing! He forgives your sins–every one. He heals your diseases—every one. He redeems you from hell and saves your life! He crowns you with love and mercy–a paradise crown. He wraps you in goodness—beauty eternal. He renews your youth—you’re always young in His presence.”

What is the takeaway message?

The song talks about how the Lord pursues us and that His love is always present. That’s what I long for in my life more than anything. That Matthew 6 passage about seeking first the Kingdom of God guides me in my life, because if that’s what you are after, God will take care of everything else you need.

That’s what I was after in that season. Not because I had a ton of worry, but because of uncertainty of what my life would look like. It was the Lord reminding me that if I stick close to Him and if I continue to seek Him and put intimacy first, He’ll take care of me. It’s not going to matter what the season looks like. Everything I need will be taken care of, and the desires of my heart will be fulfilled because He holds all of that in His hands and He’s so faithful in everything.

My husband Paul and I loved being part of the Bethel Music project “We Will Not Be Shaken.” Our hearts really connected with the music ministry, and it’s been such a joy to participate in everything. It was a blast to make this album together because we are all friends, and we got to make music with people we love. We all have the same desire. Our same one thing is Jesus.

Your voice ever close You called me
You never gave up pursuing
I fell in love You stole my heart
Your hand ever near I hold to
I long for Your heart to know You
Just to live in Your fellowship

Just to be close to You, Just to walk next to You
This is my one thing You are my one thing
Just to be close to You, Just to walk next to You
This is my one thing You are my one thing

My eyes ever fixed upon You
To live like a child to trust You
I’ll hold on to this treasured love
My life ever set at Your feet
I give You my heart completely
To live this life always by Your side

Just to be close to You, Just to walk next to You
This is my one thing You are my one thing
Just to be close to You, Just to walk next to You
This is my one thing You are my one thing

I have to know You
All that’s within me
Cries out for Your presence, God
Nothing compares
There’s no one else
Jesus You’re my one desire
Nothing compares
There’s no one else
Jesus You’re my one desire
Jesus You’re my one desire

Just to be close to You, Just to walk next to You
This is my one thing You are my one thing
Just to be close to You, Just to walk next to You
This is my one thing You are my one thing

“You Are My One Thing” reflects the yearning for Jesus that I pray for my daughters to feel in their hearts as well. Every song released by Bethel Music completely focuses me as a listener on joining in praise, worship and adoration of our beautiful King Jesus. This song is a modern day psalm singing about Jesus being our one desire and how much He loves us. You can know Jesus personally.

Daily we are presented with the choices of how to use our time, lifestyle choices, pursuit of riches, living for today not knowing what tomorrow has in store for us, questioning our loneliness and looking for meaning. You can take comfort in these words from Philippians 3:8: “I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.”

God’s thoughts and love for us are deep, such as cannot be known. We cannot think how many mercies we have received from Him. As the Lord knows us thoroughly, and we are strangers to ourselves, we should earnestly desire and pray to be searched and proved by His Word and Spirit.

One of my daily devotionals in trying to grow in my walk with Jesus is to sing to Him at least one praise song every day. Like Hannah, I suggest we all spend time with the Lord and try praying and singing along with this great song of praise and adoration. I love how this song reminds me to give God “all that’s within me.” This song is a beautiful picture of our hope in Christ. By giving Our Lord all that is within us, by blessing God, we are overwhelmed by God’s love and mercy in return.

I realize that Jesus commands us to trust God’s Word completely no matter our circumstances or personal distractions or concerns. The bridge is my heart’s cry and has an amazing reminder: “I have to know You, All that’s within me, Cries out for Your presence, God, Nothing compares, There’s no one else, Jesus You’re my one desire.” Amen to that!

(Watch Hannah sing the song here.)


You can make a big impact… Simply by sharing your story.

July 1st, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Lifestyle
Ryan Pittman is a man with Down syndrome and a servant with a heart for God. Since he was a young boy he always wanted to help others. In time, he was finally able to travel to Peru and follow his dream and serve Jesus!“I am different … I have Down Syndrome. But we are all the same because we all NEED God.”

The Rapid Rise of Nondenominational Christianity

July 1st, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in News and Updates
Membership, baptism, and weekly attendance numbers are down in the largest evangelical denomination, but evangelicalism is a different story. By Ed Stetzer

The Rapid Rise of Nondenominational Christianity: My Most Recent Piece at CNN
CNN has posted a story I wrote describing the drastic rise of nondenominationalism among those whose religious preference is “Protestant.” Here is the chart that tells the story visually, that we describe there verbally.

Using a baseline average from 1972–1976, over the last four decades, there has been more than a 400 percent growth in Protestants who identify as nondenominational.

Earlier this week, the Southern Baptist Convention, which is the largest evangelical denomination in the United States, released data showing that membership numbers have declined for the eighth straight year. I wrote about the acceleration of that decline at Between the Times.

So, what does this mean and how does it related to what I wrote for The Washington Post, USA Today, and CNN a few weeks ago about the persistence of evangelicalism in the United States? After seeing the new SBC data, one may think, “Surely if the largest evangelical denomination in the country is losing people, evangelicalism as a whole must be dying. Aha, Ed Stetzer!”

Well, that’s not the case, and there is a clear reason why: the rise of nondenominational evangelicals.

Just for a point of reference, this chart compares the decline of SBC affiliation as a percent of US population (in this case, based on Pew data) and the rise of nondenominational evangelicalism in the same sample during the same timeframe.

There are many other denominations in evangelicalism, and as I mentioned in the CNN article, the Assemblies of God just announced their 25th year of continued growth, but the picture points us to a change that’s often overlooked—the rise of nondenominational evangelicalism.

CNN has published a new piece from me today in which I explain this phenomenon. Here’s an excerpt:

If you focus only on churches within evangelical denominations, you miss those congregations that, while evangelical in their doctrine, exist independently.Ignoring nondenominational churches misses Church of the Highlands in Birmingham, Alabama, which has more than 30,000 attendees, or the almost 25,000 Christians who attend Willow Creek Community Church outside Chicago. They, and many churches like them, are well-known and denominationally unaffiliated.

Despite recent data from LifeWay Research, which found most Americans are open to denomination churches, many pastors feel they can be more effective by not promoting their denominational affiliation. They aren’t necessarily hiding it, but it’s not something that comes up frequently.

Many evangelicals are happy to talk about Jesus, but perhaps are reticent to talk about their denomination. Or they might not even know their church is affiliated with a larger group.

For example, tens of thousands of people attend campuses of the innovative, the congregation behind the popular YouVersion Bible app. Most members of LifeChurch are probably unaware of their affiliation with the Evangelical Covenant Church, a denomination founded by Swedish immigrants—another growing evangelical denomination—for 22 years in a row.

There’s one more factor at play, too: church membership rolls do not accurately reflect regular attendance or active participation. I wrote for CNN:

Here’s a dirty little secret: Many evangelical churches report membership numbers that look very different from actual attendance or even involvement.Many Roman Catholics may be familiar with this phenomenon. I’m probably still on the roll of Our Lady of Victory in Floral Park, just outside of New York City, where I was baptized as a child.

Many evangelicals have some similar attendance patterns, often listing far more people on the membership rolls than actually attend church on Sunday mornings.

There’s lots of information there, so please read the article at their site, and like and share so that others can understand the shift.

When you look at this chart, created from the General Social Survey (GSS), showing the increase of “nondenominationals” as a percent of evangelicals, it’s quite stunning:

Soon, a third of all evangelicals will be nondenominational.

I’m a believer in denominations as tools for cooperative mission, so I think that this is not all good news. Furthermore, I imagine that many of these churches will partner up in networks for cooperative strategy (and many already are). However, the landscape is changing.

Some evangelical denominations are growing (and I mention two in the CNN article). Others are not. But it would be hard for any to grow as fast as nondenominational evangelicalism.


23 Famous Failures to Inspire You

July 1st, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Advice and Tips
By Brad AronsonDon’t be afraid to fail. In fact, failures often lead to success. Take inspiration from both the famous failures and the lesser known failures below. All of these failures were followed by perseverance and enormous successes.I originally compiled this list of famous failures for my entrepreneurship class. The class curriculum consists of each student starting a businesses. These famous failures were meant to give the class some comfort about failures related to their businesses and the challenges they faced as teenagers.

I hope you also find these famous failures helpful.

Jack Andraka
When he was 15, Jack Andraka had a crazy idea. He would create a diagnostic test for Pancreatic Cancer that was better than the tests developed by scientists, research labs and billion dollar pharmaceutical companies.Jack wrote a proposal to develop a better test. 199 research labs rejected him. I’ll repeat that — 199 labs REJECTED him. Good thing he didn’t give up. The 200th research lab — at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore — accepted him. At the lab Jack Andraka developed a Pancreatic Cancer test 100 times better and 26,000 times less expensive than the current test. Jack’s invention will save tens of thousands of lives.

Click here, to read more about Jack Andraka‘s amazing story and diagnostic cancer test.

Michael Jordan famous failures
Michael Jordan, considered by many to be the greatest basketball player of all time, was devastated when he was cut from his high school varsity basketball team sophomore year. Good thing failure only inspired him to work harder.

Here’s what he said about failure:
“I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

Steve Jobs famous failures
Steve Jobs was fired from the company he founded – Apple. He also failed with NeXT computer company and the Lisa computer. When Jobs returned to Apple, he led the business to become the most profitable company in the US.

Elizabeth Blackwell
Elizabeth Blackwell was rejected from 29 medical schools. So, she went to visit the schools in person. She was told she should pretend to be a man, because women weren’t fit to receive medical schooling.She refused.

Blackwell was accepted by mistake by Hobart College (then Geneva Medical College), and she matriculated. Many MD’s refused to work with her, but she persevered and graduated.

Elizabeth Blackwell was the first woman to receive a medical degree in the U.S. (1849). She then built a medical practice, created a place where women could have medical internships (since many healthcare facilities didn’t welcome women), served impoverished families, and established the first medical college for women.

Walt Disney famous failures

No one wanted to hire Walt Disney as an artist. In fact, he couldn’t get hired elsewhere either. So, his brother got him a temporary job. Walt’s first animation studio went bankrupt. He went on to co-found The Walt Disney Company, which had over $40 billion in 2012 revenue.

Leaning Tower of Pisa famous failure.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa, wasn’t supposed to be leaning, but if it were straight it probably wouldn’t be such a popular tourist attraction.

Steven Spielberg famous failures

Steven Spielberg was rejected both times he applied to attend film school at University of Southern California (USC). That didn’t stop him. Spielberg has grossed $8.5 billion from films he directed.

Oh, and after Spielberg became famous, USC awarded him an honorary degree, and Spielberg later became a trustee of the university.

Charles Schultz famous failures

Charles Schultz’s drawings were rejected by his high school yearbook. Schultz went on to create Peanuts (featuring Snoopy and Charlie Brown). The cartoon and licensing/product revenue from Peanuts generated over $1 billion a year. The high school eventually put a statue of snoopy in the main office.

Beatles famous failure

The Beatles were rejected by numerous record labels including Decca Records, which said, “guitar groups are on the way out” and “the Beatles have no future in show business.” The Beatles did wind up getting signed by a record label. The Beatles sold more singles in the UK than anyone else, and the Beatles have moved more units in the US (more than 177 million) than any other group.

Colonel Harland Sanders famous failures

Colonel Harland Sanders was a 6th grade dropout. When he was 65, a new interstate highway diverted traffic away from his restaurant leaving Sanders with only his secret fried chicken recipe and a Social Security check. So he began selling his recipe and franchise idea. According to the news, he was rejected over 1,000 times. Then he found a partner with whom he build the KFC franchise powerhouse (over 15,000 restaurants).

Mary Kay Ash
Mary Kay Ash sold books door to door while her husband served in the military. When her husband returned from duty, they divorced. Ash was left with three children at a time when divorce wasn’t acceptable.Ash was frustrated when passed over for a promotion because she was a woman. So, she and her second husband planned a business, Mary Kay Cosmetics. One month prior to launch her husband died.

With a $5,000 investment from her oldest son, Ash launched her business. Forbes reported 2014 revenue as over $3.5 billion.

Mark Cuban on failure

“I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter how many times you failed. You only have to be right once. I tried to sell powdered milk. I was an idiot lots of times, and I learned from them all.” Mark Cuban, Billionaire Entrepreneur. Check out these 10 important business lessons from Mark Cuban.

Oprah famous failures
After only seven and a half months, Oprah Winfrey was fired from her job co-anchoring the 6pm news at Baltimore’s WJZ. Something about not being the right fit.

About another news job Oprah said:
“I once went back … after covering a family that had been burned out and brought them some of my blankets and stuff. And the assistant news director … told me … that if I did that again and they found out about it, I could be fired, because I was involving myself in other people’s stories. Which is true, you’re there to cover the story, not get involved in it…”

Oprah became a media billionaire, hosted the highest ranked TV show of it’s kind in history, and is an incredible philanthropist – getting involved in other people’s stories to help them.

Elizabeth Arden
Elizabeth Arden (real name – Florence Nightingale Graham) dropped out of nursing school. Then her first business failed. She didn’t give up. Instead, she borrowed $6,000 to start her next beauty company, Elizabeth Arden, Inc. Last year Elizabeth Arden, Inc. had over $1 billion in sales.

Jack Canfield famous failure
Jack Canfield was rejected 144 times before he found a publisher for his book, Chicken Soup for the Soul. When Jack told the publisher he wanted to sell 1.5 million books in the first 18 months, the publisher laughed and said he’d be lucky to sell 20,000.That first book sold more than 8 million copies in America and 10 million copies around the world. Canfield’s book brand is now a $1 Billion brand.

Canfield’s advice:
“So the reality is that you just have to say, ‘I’m more committed to my vision than I’m committed to your doubt or my fear,’ and just go for it…” (From Conversations with Top Achievers by Woody Woodward)

James Dyson famous failures

It took 5 years and 5,126 failed prototypes for James Dyson to develop the world’s first bagless vacuum cleaner. 10 years later Dyson setup his own manufacturing facility, because other manufacturers wouldn’t produce his vacuum. Now he has the best selling vacuum in the world. According to The Sunday Times, in 2013 his net worth was 3 Billion Pounds.

Milton Hershey famous failures

Milton Hershey’s chocolate business was his third. The first two went bankrupt. His perseverance led to enormous wealth and philanthropy. Hershey established the Milton Hershey School for at-risk children, and a foundation to provide opportunities to residents of Hershey, PA.

J.K. Rowling famous failures
Speaking at Harvard’s graduation, J.K. Rowling spoke about failures:
“You might never fail on the scale I did,” Rowling told the new graduates. “But it is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all—in which case, you fail by default.”When Rowling wrote the first Harry Potter book, she was divorced, bankrupt and on welfare.

After a dozen publishers rejected her manuscript one finally agreed to publish it. But the publisher told Rowling that she needed to get a job because there’s no money in children’s books.

She’s now a billionaire.

Stan Smith famous failures

Stan wasn’t able to secure a spot as a ball boy for a Davis Cup tennis match because he was deemed too clumsy and uncoordinated. Smith went on to demonstrate his lack of coordination by winning Wimbledon, U.S. Open and eight Davis Cups.


Madonna famous failures
Madonna dropped out of college, moved to NYC and quickly lost jobs at Dunkin Donuts and as a hat check woman at the Russian Tea Room. She wound up supporting herself through $7 per hour nude modeling gigs.Madonna still pushed for a career as an artist, and she succeeded. She has sold more than 300 million albums worldwide. Madonna is the best-selling female recording artist of all time.

Nick Woodman
Nick Woodman’s startup, Funbug, was backed with $3.9 million from investors. Funbug failed. The $3.9 million was lost. Woodman was devastated and took an extended surfing trip.Woodman wanted to take videos while he was surfing. That led to his next idea – cameras that made it easy for people to video while participating in activities.

Woodman and his girlfriend sold shell necklaces out of the trunk of their car to raise money for Nick’s business. They also borrowed money from Woodman’s parents. GoPro launched in 2002, and Forbes estimates Nick’s net worth is now close to $5 billion.

Richie Ashburn
Richie Ashburn was chosen to play in the Esquire Game in New York City with other teens who had baseball talent. Richie and his family travelled from their Nebraskan town of 950 people to play. Branch Rickey, who was considered the premiere judge of baseball talent, shook Ashburn’s hand after the game and said, “Son, you should go back and do whatever it was you were going to do before you decided to be a ballplayer.”One Hall of Fame career later, Ashburn demonstrated that it’s important to persevere. Ashburn did so well that each year the Phillies present the Richie Ashburn Special Achievement Award to “a member of the Phillies organization, and an area at the Phillies’ stadium, is named “Ashburn Alley” in his honor.

If you enjoyed this article about famous failures, you should check out this inspiring poem — Don’t be Afraid to Fail.


Colton Dixon “Through All of It” Video Dedicated to Charleston, SC

July 1st, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Artist Spotlight
Dixon compiled stories from his fans through Facebook and Twitter that were hash-tagged #ThroughAllOfIt. However, what he did not share with the fans is that he and his team went in and hand selected some of the stories to use in the music video.

“I had no idea when we were scheduling the premiere what would take place,” said Dixon. “I just want to take this time to dedicate this video to everyone impacted by this tragedy in Charleston at Emanuel AME Church. Something the pastor said that just encouraged me, it was amazing. He said, ‘It’s by faith we are standing and sitting here, it’s been tough and some of us are downright angry, but through it all, God has sustained us,’ and that is the epitome of this song that I want people to hear and be encouraged by. So I hope the people in Charleston are encouraged by this but also across the U.S.”

10 Healthy Ice Creams You Can Make In Your Blender

July 1st, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Advice and Tips
Forget buying those pints of ice cream packed with sugar and other unnecessary ingredients. You can make your own in 60 seconds in your blender, which doubles as an awesome soft-serve machine. (Find out how you can beat your sugar addiction in 21 days with the Sugar Smart Express!) These 10 delish DIY recipes have more healthy fat, protein, and antioxidants than most ice creams you can churn out (pun intended), but are tasty enough that you won’t ever dream of a pint of Ben & Jerry’s again.

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl

chocolate-pb-ice-creamThis chocolate ready-to-serve treat is made out of a banana base (not cream), so there’s no guilt. Top with mini chocolate chips for a sundae spin.

SERVINGS: 3 to 4 / MAKES: 3 cups / 1½ pints

½ c plain Greek yogurt
4 frozen bananas
¼ c maple syrup
⅓ c cocoa powder
2 Tbsp natural peanut butter

1. COMBINE first 4 ingredients in a blender and blend until thick and creamy.
2. DRIZZLE in the peanut butter and pulse 2 to 3 times to incorporate.
3. SERVE immediately.

NUTRITION (per serving) 242 cal, 7 g pro, 47 g carb, 6 g fiber, 30 g sugars, 6 g fat, 1.5 g sat fat, 44 mg sodium

Coconut Bliss

coconut-ice-creamThis coconut party in your mouth is deceptively creamy—yet dairy free (it uses coconut milk, not cream)! Scoop and roll in flaked coconut for extra texture and fiber.

SERVINGS: 3 to 4 / MAKES: 3 cups /1½ pints

½ c canned coconut milk
¼ c unsweetened flaked coconut
¼ c maple syrup
½ tsp vanilla
2 frozen bananas

1. COMBINE all the ingredients in a blender and blend until thick and creamy.
2. TRANSFER to a loaf pan and freeze at least 4 hours.

NUTRITION (per serving) 195 cal, 2 g pro, 29 g carb, 3 g fiber, 21 g sugars, 9.5 g fat, 8 g sat fat, 9 mg sodium

Green Tea Pistachio Ice Cream

pistachio-ice-creamThis creamy vegan confection has healthy written all over it, thanks to the double dose of antioxidants from matcha powder and pistachios.

SERVINGS: 3 to 4 / MAKES: 3 cups 1½ pints

1 c cashews
¼ c maple syrup
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
¼ c canned coconut or almond milk
1 Tbsp matcha green tea powder
2 frozen bananas
⅓ c pistachio pieces

1. COVER cashews in water and soak overnight. Rinse and drain.
2. BLEND together cashews and remaining ingredients until thick and creamy.
3. TRANSFER to a loaf pan and freeze 4 hours before serving.

NUTRITION (per serving) 357 cal, 9 g pro, 41 g carb, 4 g fiber, 25 g sugars, 20 g fat, 5.5 g sat fat, 15 mg sodium

Cherry Swirl

cherry-swirl-ice-creamThis tart, tangy treat is a swirlicious blend of antioxidant-rich sweet cherries and protein-packed Greek yogurt.

SERVINGS: 2 to 3 / MAKES: 2 cups / 1 pint

2 c frozen cherries
½ c plain Greek yogurt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
½ c plain Greek yogurt
1 Tbsp honey

1. BLEND together cherries, ½ c Greek yogurt and vanilla until smooth.
2. TRANSFER to a loaf pan.
3. MIX together remaining ½ c Greek yogurt and honey and drizzle over loaf pan. Use a butter knife to gently swirl the mixture.
4. FREEZE for at least 4 hours.

NUTRITION (per serving) 135 cal, 7 g pro, 24 g carb, 2 g fiber, 21 g sugars, 1.5 g fat, 1 g sat fat, 25 mg sodium

Mint Chip

mint-chip-ice-creamMint chip lovers rejoice! This healthy version combines avocado, banana, and Greek yogurt for a creamy finish that leaves you totally satisfied, thanks to a hefty dose of protein and monounsaturated fats.

MORE: The Healthy Fat You’ve Probably Never Tried

SERVINGS: 3 to 4 / MAKES: 3 cups /1½ pints

½ c plain Greek yogurt
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1 avocado
3 frozen bananas
1 tsp peppermint extract
⅓ c mini chocolate chips

1. COMBINE the first 5 ingredients in a blender and blend until thick and creamy.
2. STIR in the chocolate chips.
3. TRANSFER to a loaf pan and freeze at least 4 hours.

NUTRITION (per serving) 247 cal, 5 g pro, 35 g carb, 7 g fiber, 20 g sugars, 12.5 g fat, 4 g sat fat, 15 mg sodium

Mango Madness

mango-newThis 3-ingredient tropical treat is like the perfect summer day in your mouth. Top with berries for extra zing and dose of antioxidants and fiber.

SERVINGS: 3 to 4 / MAKES: 3 cups /1½ pints

¾ c plain Greek yogurt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2½ c frozen mango

1. COMBINE all the ingredients in a blender and blend until thick and creamy.
2. SERVE immediately.

NUTRITION (per serving) 93 cal, 4 g pro, 17 g carb, 2 g fiber, 16 g sugars, 1 g fat, 0.5 g sat fat, 15 mg sodium

Peachy Orange

peach-orange-ice-creamThink: sophisticated creamsicle. This simple concoction is a peachy-orange scoop of perfection.

SERVINGS: 2 to 3 / MAKES: 2 cups /1 pints

⅓ c canned coconut cream
2 Tbsp honey
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 c frozen peaches

1. COMBINE all the ingredients in a blender and blend until thick and creamy.
2. TRANSFER to a loaf pan and freeze at least 4 hours.

NUTRITION (per serving) 199 cal, 1 g pro, 39 g carb, 1 g fiber, 37 g sugars, 5.5 g fat, 5 g sat fat, 13 mg sodium

Strawberries ’N Cream

strawberry-ice-creamThis vegan and dairy free treat tastes just like the calorie-packed childhood favorite. Plus, how can you go wrong with strawberries?

SERVINGS: 2 to 3 / MAKES: 2 cups / 1 pints

1 can full fat coconut milk
1 Tbsp maple syrup
2 c frozen strawberries

1. REFRIGERATE canned coconut milk overnight. The next day, open can upside down, pour out the liquid (reserve for smoothies) and scoop the thickened coconut cream into a blender.
2. ADD maple syrup and strawberries and blend until thick and cream.
3. SERVE immediately or freeze for a thicker consistency.

NUTRITION (per serving) 154 cal, 2g pro, 8 g carb, 2 g fiber, 5 g sugars, 14 g fat, 12.5 g sat fat, 9 mg sodium

Salted Caramel

salted-date-ice-creamYes, this one tastes as good as it sounds—and makes an awesome banana split. Top with chopped nuts, chopped dates, cocoa nibs, and a sprinkle of sea salt for a total crowd pleaser.

SERVINGS: 3 to 4 / MAKES: 3 cups /1½ pints

¼ cup Greek yogurt
2 Tbsp maple syrup
10 whole milk ice cubes
1 frozen banana
6 pitted dates
¼ tsp sea salt

1. BLEND first 4 ingredients together until creamy. Add in the dates and sea salt and pulse until just combined.
2. SERVE immediately or freeze for a firmer consistency.

NUTRITION (per serving) 203 cal, 4 g pro, 44 g carb, 3 g fiber, 38 g sugars, 2.5 g fat, 1.5 g sat fat, 134 mg sodium

Vegan Cookie Dough

vegan-cookie-dough-ice-creamRich and decadent, this dense, dairy-free delight loaded with cookie dough chunks will make you rethink healthy ice cream—in a good way. (Take a look at more dairy-free clean foods from our Cleanest Packaged Food Awards.)

SERVINGS: 3 to 4 / MAKES: 3 cups /1½ pints

Vegan cookie dough:
2 Tbsp coconut oil or Earth Balance Spread
2 Tbsp maple syrup
½ tsp pure vanilla extract
⅓ c flour (white flour, spelt flour or almond flour)
2 Tbsp vegan chocolate chips
Pinch sea salt

Vegan Ice cream:
2 c raw cashews soaked overnight
¼ c maple syrup
¼ c fresh lemon juice
½ c water
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Pinch sea salt
2 Tbsp vegan chocolate chips

1. COVER cashews in water and soak overnight. Rinse and drain.
2. STIR together cookie dough ingredients, roll into marble-sized balls and freeze on a parchment-lined cookie sheet 1 hour or overnight.
3. COMBINE ice cream ingredients (pre-soaked cashews through sea salt) in a blender and blend until creamy.
4. TRANSFER to a loaf pan and stir in 2 Tbsp vegan chocolate chips and frozen cookie dough balls. Tap pan to remove air bubbles and freeze 4 hours before serving.

NUTRITION (per serving) 347 cal, 8 g pro, 34 g carb, 1 g fiber, 17 g sugars, 22 g fat, 7.5 g sat fat, 41 mg sodium


“Lawn Twister” & Other Creative Family Reunion Ideas!

July 1st, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Family
Lawn Twister

Summertime is a great opportunity to round up the entire extended family and enjoy a family reunion. It’s been way too long since we’ve held a reunion in our family, so lately I have been looking for inspiration in planning one of our own. Since just mentioning the words “family reunion” can cause people to cringe at the thought…I want to make sure there are plenty of fun and memory-making activities planned.

Here are some I found that I think would be real crowd-pleasers with our clan! Starting with a new “twist” on an old favorite! :-)

Lawn Twister

Lawn Twister

Pretty self-explanatory. Paint a “twister board” onto your lawn and get started! I cut a 10 inch circle out of a pizza box and used it for my template, then made the circles using contractors marking spray paint (that washes off.)

Lawn Twister

I suppose you could use regular spray paint too, but you’d have to wait for it to grow out before it disappeared. :-)

Lawn Twister

A string helped me to keep the lines straight, but I think you could also just “eyeball” the placement of the dots and you’d do just fine.

Lawn Twister

My first indication that this might be a hit at our family reunion was my teenage boys and their friends even thinking it was fun! :-)

Here are some more fun ideas……

Family Reunion Ideas

Family Relay

Create your own family relay race. Organize into teams that include “real” runners, non-runners and little kids. Everyone on the team runs the distance that works for them while the rest of their team follows along in the team car. Some people might run a few miles, while others a few yards. But everyone cheers each other on whole-heartedly!

Family Reunion Ideas

Family Trivia Game

Have each family contribute several “family facts” ahead of time and make up booklets with at least one question for each member in attendance. The questions can be anything from, “How old was great-grandpa when he arrived in the United States?” to “Which family member has gotten the most speeding tickets?” This trivia quiz is sure to spark conversations about the past and the present. You may even learn a thing or two about your family that you didn’t know!

Family Reunion Ideas

Photo Booth

Something as simple as hanging a frame on a tree branch can inspire family pictures that will last a lifetime!

Family Reunion Ideas

Family Olympics

Running races, swimming relays, a water balloon toss, 3-legged races, darts, pie-eating contests…the possibilities are endless! It doesn’t take long to bring out the spirit of competition at large family events…usually followed by lots of laughs! Be sure to be prepared with “Olympic Game Medals” to award to the victors made out of candy bars attached to pieces of ribbon.

Family Reunion Ideas

Grandchildren Photoshoot

Grandchildren decorate and then hold numbers corresponding to their birth order in the extended family. Much easier (and cuter!) than numbered screen-printed tshirts.

Family Reunion Ideas

Talent Show

Keep it low key so no one feels pressured to do something outside their comfort zone. Invite everyone to put their name or their group’s name on a sign-up sheet but no one has to participate. Numbers should be 2 minutes or less so everyone can participate that wants to without making it too long. Encourage creativity! It’s a great chance for cousins to work together and a fun way to showcase talents and interests. Lots of laughter guaranteed!

Family Reunion Ideas

Cousin Sleep Over

Save room and headaches by allowing all the cousins of similar ages to sleep in the same room. This helps build relationships and gives the parents a break for the evening.

Family Reunion Ideas

Guess Who?

Mount childhood photos of family members onto cardstock and hang them on a bulletin board. Try to figure out who’s who and have fun looking for a resemblance between generations.

Family Reunion Ideas

Family Favorite Foods

Ask guests to bring an addition to a meal — perhaps a family favorite like Grandma’s famous pumpkin cookies. Make assignments. You could print out all the recipes and make a small cookbook to share.

Family Reunion Ideas

Bring Your Own Party Favors

Request that each family bring something small that represents their home state as special party favor for each of the other families in attendance. Maple syrup from Vermont? Barbecue sauce from Texas? You get the idea. Then put together a grab bag of goodies for each family to take home.

Family Reunion Ideas

Film Archives

Set up a video on a tripod, and have everyone record a funny story or a favorite memory.

Family Reunion Ideas

Tug of War

A classic. All you need is solid rope, and some tape to mark the center of the rope and mark 8 feet on each side of the center. Dividing the family into teams is part of the fun. The battle of the sexes is a popular approach, with boys versus girls or uncles against aunts. It could be one branch of the family challenging another, or the adults going up against the young. The game can be more fun if the rope extends across a small stream, a puddle or a water sprinkler. :-)

Family Reunion Ideas

Rainbow Tag

The basic idea…hide colored popsicle sticks with a face paint crayon. Players find the sticks and mark their faces with that color. First one to find all the colors wins.

Family Reunion Ideas

Who Am I?

Simply write the names of everyone at the reunion on small slips of paper and drop them in a hat. Then have each player draw a name and tape it to someone else’s forehead — without allowing him to see it. Players mix and mingle, asking other participants yes-or-no questions (“Do I have kids?” “Am I taller than you?”) until everyone figures out whose name is taped to his or her forehead.

Family Reunion Ideas

Awards Ceremony

As a final activity, have an awards ceremony and give out candy/certificates for things like “best sunburn” or “loudest snorer.” It will get everyone laughing and help cement the good times in everyone’s memory before it’s time to go home.

Family Reunion Ideas

Don’t Forget To Skype

Last, but not least… in the event there are some family members that simply can’t make it in person, be sure and have a Skype session sometime during the reunion. You could even do one of the above activities via the internet. One of the greatest things about technology… it makes the world a whole lot smaller.